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This series was originally written in 2008. I'm on a Mac at the moment which has neither Outlook nor OneNote, so answering questions and updating might be difficult.

Series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 ]

GTD using Outlook and OneNote (6)

Originally posted on Put It

This is the 6th installment of the PiS series on GTD using Microsoft Outlook and OneNote. This time we’ll take a look at using OneNote templates to manage our projects and next actions.

My initial inspiration for using OneNote templates in my GTD system was from Manage This. I was blown away by the idea of having all my actions, notes, and references for a project in view all at once, though some of what Manage This included I felt was too much for me.

My template has five areas: Client/Project Title, Next Actions, Reference Material, Notes, and Target Tuning. I’ve made this template the default for all my project-related sections. Whenever I’ve completed a project, I drag the page to the Archives section.

Download my OneNote template for GTD here. [Updated] Sorry, still trying to locate this file.

Client/ Project Title

The purpose of this area should be fairly obvious. Between the brackets I put the name of the “client” this project is for (if it’s personal, I use “Personal”) and to the right of the brackets I create a verb-based project title, such as “Design new website”.

Next Actions

This is a cornerstone of GTD. Here I list all the actions in order to complete the project. One tremendous advantage of keeping my next actions in full view is that I can instantly see how much I’ve done as well as how much I’ve yet to do. OneNote also provides Expand/Collapse options for lists that get too long.

Reference Material (Emails, Links, Etc)

Since I typically work with two monitors, I often drag emails directly from Outlook to my reference material table. This way I don’t need to sort through old emails when I need to look up something specific to the project. Other related items, such as hyperlinks, can be easily pasted here, as well as links to local files.


I suppose the purpose of this is pretty obvious, too.

Target Tuning: Ideas & Conclusions

Sometimes when a project is completed, I can see what I could have done differently and better, and this is where I save those ideas. I sort through these during my weekly review.

Anybody can create a template for OneNote; those folks at Microsoft have made the process pretty easy. Start a new page and lay things out as you’d like them. Click Format > Templates and then click “Save current page as a template” at the very bottom of the Template pane and give it a name. If you’d like your new template to be the default template for the section you’re in, find your template in the drop down list (under “Choose default template”) in the Template pane.

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